Cleaning out a grease trap isn't something that most people look forward to, but it has to be done on a regular basis. Simply leaving fats, oils, and grease to accumulate within the trap not only causes odors, but also could lead to a wide range of plumbing issues, from clogs to corrosion.Enzyme-based treatments are among several options for cleaning out grease traps. However, you probably wonder if enzymes are the right choice for handling a dirty job.
How Enzyme-Based Treatments Work
Inside the human body, enzymes play a critical role in the digestion process. Enzymes such as amylase, lipase, and protease break down fats and proteins found in foods, allowing bacteria inside the digestive tract to consume the simpler byproducts. This isn't too far from how enzyme-based treatments are intended to work.
When deposited inside grease traps, enzyme-based treatments are designed to help break down fats, oils, and grease (FOG), allowing existing bacteria to quickly consume the broken-down byproducts created by the enzymes. Some enzyme-based treatments are also infused with bacteria in case there aren't any existing bacteria inside the grease trap.
It's important to note that enzymes and bacteria aren't the same. While bacteria are living cells that actively consume a broad range of waste products, enzymes are actually nonliving byproducts produced by bacteria. Enzymes act as a catalyst that can assist bacteria in breaking down organic material, which is why they're often used in septic tank and grease trap treatments.
Enzyme Pros and Cons
Many homeowners and businesses gravitate toward using enzyme-based treatments for the following reasons:
- Enzyme-based treatments can help beneficial bacteria digest FOG, resulting in a cleaner grease trap over time.
- Enzymes can help minimize odors produced by accumulated FOG within the grease trap.
- Enzyme-based treatments are an ecofriendly option, lacking the potential negative impact that chemical treatments may have on the environment.
Despite the potential advantages of using enzymes for cleaning grease traps, there are a few caveats to consider:
- The vast majority of enzyme-based treatments will not be able to eliminate 100 percent of FOG matter from the grease trap.
- Broken-down FOG can be pushed out of the grease trap and into the municipal sewer system, where it can eventually recoagulate into solid form and cause blockages.
- Enzyme-based treatments often take time to complete and the process could take much longer than usual if the treatment somehow upsets the balance of existing bacteria within the grease trap.
Also, keep in mind that your local municipality may have stringent requirements regarding the use of enzymes and other bacterial treatments.
In many cases, using these treatments is prohibited due to the likelihood of FOG being discharged into the municipal sewer system. Such an action could result in substantial fines and fees. It's not unusual for businesses to be fined several thousand dollars per violation for discharging FOG and other unwanted waste products into the municipal sewer.
Enzymes or Manual Pumping
Although enzyme-based treatments offer a viable option for controlling FOG, having your grease trap pumped out remains the best and most effective method of keeping buildup at bay. Having the grease trap cleaned manually significantly reduces the likelihood of FOG being introduced into the municipal sewer system.
Manual cleaning deals with hard-to-remove FOG matter along the walls of the grease trap, effectively removing a problematic source of FOG buildup. Manual pumping may also be the only effective method of mitigating FOG buildup in grease traps due to local regulations. It is usually a good idea to study the local laws regarding grease trap maintenance before deciding how to deal with FOG buildup.
For over 75 years, C.S. Hines has helped Tidewater-area residents and businesses deal with their wastewater system needs. If your grease trap needs cleaning, contact us, and we'll put our skills and expertise to work for you.